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Living Off The Grid in British Columbia

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

Living off the grid is becoming increasingly popular.  Some people simply squat on unoccupied land, or live semi-nomadic lives in some sort of vehicle.  A long term off grid lifestyle, however,  requires finding an off grid property. 

Finding off the grid land in British Columbia isn't all that hard.  There are lots of paid classified listings or free classified listings, either online or off, to complement what you can find on the Multiple Listing Service (which is also available online).

This raises the question of what, exactly, qualifies as "off grid"?  Most titled property will have some sort of access, even if only by the roughest road, and so is, technically, at least partly on grid.  You can, however, search for (or ask a realtor to send you an automated search) for properties that do not have water, sewer, telephone or electricity hook ups.  These are usually negatives for sellers, and so you're likely not going to be facing too much competition from other buyers.

Satisfying building codes and local inspections can be a challenge, but its possible to find unserviced property in areas that do not have building inspectors.  These are usually properties that are usually at least a forty five minute drive from the nearest town with a Mayor.  Strictly speaking you are still supposed to comply with the BC Building Code, but its unlikely that anyone will enforce this.

That said,  satisfying the building code is possible.  The building code allows many types of construction, and is aimed at ensuring that housing is safe, not that its plugged into the grid.  There are successful off grid homes that comply with the building code and which have been inspected and passed by building inspectors.

Its possible to find property in BC that isn't accessible by road.  Most of this is water access, either by lake or, more commonly, by the ocean.  There are also properties that are accessible by horse, bushplane or walking.   While this may seem more attractive remember that access makes building much harder, and once you're built it you'll still have the challenge of getting out for supplies or medical attention. 

Living off grid in BC involves making it through the winter.  Winters are cold enough everywhere in the province that you'll need a heat source, and in some areas it can get really, really cold.  The easiest solution is wood heat, but that requires a stove or fireplace, and lots of wood.  Perhaps the most attractive and lowest impact is geothermal, which can be constructed in various ways. 

Solar and wind won't cut it for heat.  They can, and do, relaibly provide enough electricty to run an off grid household, although your electricty consumption habits will probably have to change.  Solar can be very expensive, as can wind, when you make the intial investment.  You can build your own, though, and there are lots of plans on the internet that will work.

You can also go off grid with a generator, and al long as you have enough diesel or gas you'll have electricty to spare.  This is how remote homes, whether farms, lodges or ranches, have been traditionally powered throughout the remote parts of BC, but a fossil fuel generator likely isn't too attractive to modern day off gridders.

I think the biggest thing to remember when considering off grid living is that it isn't easy, it will likely be harder than you imagined, and there will be challenges that you enver anticipated.  On the other hand, most off gridders are independent and resourceful - its kind of in the DNA.


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